European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni told the Brussels Economic Forum on Thursday that Europe's "social model proved to be effective" through the pandemic and must be kept despite the economic challenges facing the bloc.
How can we keep Europe's competitiveness and social model in a rapidly changing environment?
This was at the heart of the debate at this year's Brussels Economic Forum organised by the European Commission on Thursday amidst experts' warning that artificial intelligence has become a reality and machines can soon outperform humans in some specific tasks.
The European Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, insisted that the only way Europe can make it is by preserving its social "acquis", and addressing the tremendous need for investments while transitioning into a digital economy.
"It has to be compatible. I don't think we have an alternative. Our social model proved to be quite effective and strong. We passed through two historical crises (with) the pandemic: health dimension and the pandemic economic dimension. And in both aspects, I think our social model proved to be effective," he said.
"Of course, we need a mountain of investments, but not at the expense of our social model," he added.
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For the Deputy Prime Minister of Spain, the Iberian peninsula is a good example of how the bloc can gain competitiveness in both the green and digital transitions thanks, in part, to state intervention in the energy market.
"I think energy prices are a key element of competitiveness that we should really cater for to ensure that they are as low as possible so as to be competitive at the world level," Nadia Calviño told Euronews.
"Regarding the digitalisation process, which is really unstoppable, we need to ensure that we have a legal framework in place which provides for the European approach to digitalisation, protecting our European values and rights. I think this is the best way really to ensure that digitalisation is acceptable to our societies and that it is sustainable in the mid- to long-run" she added.
On the other hand, trade union representatives said that governments need to spend more on education and training so people can adapt to the changing labour market.
They also called for the exclusion of some investments including greening, digital, health and education investments from debt and deficit rules.